October Brings Awareness of Workers with Disabilities
October 19, 2007
FORT EUSTIS, Va. (Army News Service, Oct. 18, 2007) -- October is National Disability Employment Awareness Month.
This initiative began as Public Law 176, passed by Congress in 1945 in the wake of massive post-World War II workforce changes. There was a giant gap in the supply of workers and the country needed to figure out for the first time how to employ people with disabilities on a large scale, just to meet national production demands.
Originally, Disability Employment Awareness Month was called National Employ the Physically Handicapped Week. Shifting attitudes in the 1970s and 80s led to a name change and to the current observance of a full month in October.
This month is a time to honor the contributions people with disabilities continue to make in enriching American economic, intellectual and artistic life, said Army Equal Opportunity Employment officials.
In 1990, President George H. W. Bush signed into law the Americans with Disabilities Act. Title I of the ADA took effect in 1992, officially prohibiting employment discrimination in recruitment, interviewing, hiring and advancement on the basis of disability. People with disabilities received equal access to employment for the first time in the country's history.
Employees with disabilities represent millions of working-age people who contribute to both the national economy and individual companies every day. Most are not hoping to be given "special consideration "or" assignments commensurate with their abilities;" they want the chance to show their full potential on the same footing as their co-workers and to be judged on the merits of the work they do, just like anyone else.
October has become the kick-off month for year-round programs that highlight and support the abilities, skills and fundamental equality of all persons with disabilities. It's a time not just for this particular group to feel pride in their achievements, according to EEO officials, but a time for the entire nation to recognize these accomplishments and realize they've enhanced all aspects of our society.
One may ask why you should care about National Disability Employment Awareness Month and what should you do with this knowledge' The answer from EEO: Share your knowledge with others. Send a strong message of inclusion through your children, co-workers and employees, not just in October, but throughout the year.
(Irene Hopkins is an EEO Specialist at Fort Eustis, Va.)